The owner of one of the largest privately owned companies in China has been arrested. Reuters reported that the founder and chairman of Cedar Holdings, a firm that runs real estate, finance, and auto sales, has been arrested in connection with illegal fundraising estimated at about $2.9 billion. A spokesman for the company did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Authorities are stepping up their crackdown on illegal fundraising scams. In a report published on Tuesday, the State Administration of Taxation warned that fundraising fraud had caused damage to financial markets and that authorities will take measures to stop unauthorized investment funds from operating in China. In addition, the report noted that the number of criminal cases related to private investment and financial intermediaries had increased by about 50 percent year-on-year and that most of these crimes were committed by private firms.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Shanghai Public Security Bureau said that the agency was working with law enforcement agencies nationwide to investigate and prosecute illegal fundraising cases in the financial industry. The spokesman also warned the public to be aware of fraudulent activities. He added that the public should not believe advertising or promotional materials from any private investment and financial institutions, according to Reuters.
In the United States, Chinese nationals have been accused of stealing trade secrets and working as agents for Beijing’s Ministry of State Security (MSS). The FBI has charged Chinese nationals with espionage in 2021. In one instance, a man whose name was publicly released in court documents discussed illicit merchandise trading with a partner named in the transcripts as a crime boss in China. “If Colombia is known for drugs, Africa is known for conflict, and now China is well known for smuggling,” he said.
Other espionage cases have included Chinese hackers who stole information from the United States. For example, in 2022, a U.S. national was convicted of smuggling trade secrets from Boeing and other companies for the MSS. The information stolen by the hacker included engineering data for the Space Shuttle, C-17 military transport aircraft, and the Delta IV rocket.
Despite being in China, Zhang was a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong that ended in bloodshed and mass arrests by Communist Party police in September 2019. She was one of 65 people detained for standing up against government repression, holding umbrellas to stand in solidarity with those protesting on the streets.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has been owned several times over the years, and there were concerns that Beijing would influence the paper each time. However, it needs to be clarified whether the current ownership by Malaysian commodities and property tycoon Robert Kuok will lead to changes in its editorial direction. The newspaper is widely believed to have lost about $1 billion in the last two years. However, the losses have encouraged Mr. Kuok to continue investing in the media industry.